She was totally in love with this man.


But she wasn’t quite sure what to do about it. She wasn’t certain if she’d been celibate so long that Kane’s expertise in bed turned her feelings of lust into love. Not only that, if she confessed her feelings, would he think she was no different than the other mothers in the Little Buddies program, angling for a permanent piece of him?

She’d never want Kane to think she prized his potential as a father over everything else that made him such a good man. And she wouldn’t put the weight of her confession of her feelings for him when his day had already been filled with emotional upheaval.

Ginger felt her father’s curiosity as he watched the boy and the man still snuggled on the couch.

Without a word, or even a look her direction, he refocused on his crossword puzzle.

She put her father’s guarded reaction out of her mind and prepared supper. After they ate, her father pleaded a headache and retired to his room. She thought about finishing paperwork in her home office, but she was content to sit between Hayden and Kane as they trash talked, wielding battling game controllers.

When Hayden’s bedtime rolled around, he hugged Kane before skipping off to his room with Ginger following to tuck him in.

She returned to the living room and saw Kane staring out into the darkness, his hands shoved in the front pockets of his Wranglers, his shoulders hunched almost to his ears. She slid her arms around his waist and kissed the back of his neck.

Kane made a pleased-sounding rumble.

She kissed him again. “Stay with me tonight.”

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His hands came out of his pockets and he turned around. “What about—”

Another longer, deeper kiss quelled his protest. She eased back to murmur, “I don’t care. I want to be with you tonight. All night. You and me. In my bed. If you’re worried about your virtue, you can sneak out before sunrise.”

He playfully nipped her bottom lip. “You sayin’ my virtue is safe with you?”

“No. But we’ll come up with a cover story if Hayden wakes up.”


Ginger undressed him slowly, loving the way Mr. Take Charge gave control over to her. She soothed him with a deep tissue back massage, relaxing him to the point he fell asleep. She rested on top of him, her right cheek pressed between his shoulder blades, her pelvis curled over his buttocks, their legs entwined.

Kane woke up refreshed, ending her control. But he didn’t push her to that deliciously dark edge of sexual pleasure. He touched her everywhere, from the soles of her feet to the tips of her earlobes with such sweet possession she had to bite her lip to keep from crying.

“Ride me,” he’d urged in that husky voice.

After she sent him soaring, she collapsed in his arms and fell asleep.

Kane’s cell phone buzzed at five a.m. Groggy, he patted Ginger’s nightstand until his fingers connected with the plastic casing. Without opening his eyes, he said, “Yeah?” He listened. “No, Dad. Just wait. I’ll be there as soon as I can.”

“Something wrong?” Ginger asked.

“The first calf dropped about an hour ago. Then two more. Dad’s got one lined up in the barn at my place that we’ve gotta pull.”

He rolled to the side of the bed and gathered his clothes from the floor. He felt Ginger’s eyes boring into the back of his neck. “Look, I know this is gonna sound like a brush off, but I ain’t gonna be around much for the next three weeks.” Kane faced her. “Not for our lunch dates, not on weekends, not even for the Little Buddies events. The cell service sucks, so don’t think I’m avoidin’ you or nothin’ when I don’t call.”

“Calving is tiring?”

“Like you wouldn’t believe. Sometimes I fall asleep standin’ up.”

“So when you’re done, will you let me take care of you for a change?”

Kane had known he loved her almost from the start. Right then, Kane realized he had to stop playing it safe—they both did. This was real, this was forever. But there wasn’t a damn thing either of them could do about it now.


He kissed her. “I’m puttin’ in my request for you to wear one of them sexy harem-girl outfits as you’re hand feedin’ me grapes and coolin’ me down with palm fronds.”

She held her hands in prayer position and blinked her eyes. “Anything else, master?”

“Yeah, see if you can’t round up some of them nipple clamps on a golden chain. And a satin pillow.”

He grinned. “For your knees.”

“As you wish.”

Two weeks later…

Kane was having a devil of a time keeping his eyes open. He yawned, knowing it’d be another long night out in the cold and snow. But at least he had this place to crash in.

Two years ago, the McKay “boys”, as their collective fathers called them, had all chipped in and built a bunkhouse. The structure wasn’t anything fancy, just one room with three sets of bunk beds, a big conference-type table, an old refrigerator and a small counter that held a hot plate, a microwave and a coffee pot. For warmth during the freezing-ass winter months, they’d bought several space heaters. For cooling off during the hot-as-hell summer months, well, they could leave the door open. A gas-powered generator provided electricity, but there was no running water, just a water tank. No bathroom either, just an outhouse in the trees. As far as amenities, it was damn primitive. Although it was out in the boonies, it was centrally located on the ranch. They’d even had an old-fashioned barn raising, building a small metal structure where they could keep equipment, and a place for calves to spend a night or two, if needed.

He kicked his chair against the wall. He hadn’t bothered to look at the schedule to see who he was working with tonight. The schedule was more or less a joke anyway. He was always here, Brandt was always here and Tell was always here. The others came and went whenever the hell they felt like it. Truth was, Kane didn’t begrudge them. This time of year was exhausting, but he looked forward to the annual birth cycle in a way he couldn’t explain without sounding like a sappy damn fool.

The door opened and shut quickly. But even so, Kane felt the rush of cold air. Boots stamped. Clothes rustled. He finally opened his eyes.

Colt stared back at him.

Fucking awesome.

So far they’d managed to avoid working with one another. It’d been a childish hope on Kane’s part that the avoidance would last through calving season.

“So if you’re gonna jump me again, I’d rather you got it out of your system now, instead of when we’re elbow deep in a cow’s birthin’ canal.”

Kane smiled, even when he didn’t want to. “But I like the element of surprise.”

“How well I know that,” Colt said wryly, rubbing his jaw.

Be the bigger man. This can’t go on with your cousin forever. Kane picked up his mug of nearly cold coffee. “Look. I was an ass that day. I’m sorry. You didn’t deserve me comin’ after you and certainly not in front of your wife and kid.”

Colt poured himself a cup of coffee and refilled Kane’s. Then he sat across from him. “Well, it was as much my fault as it was yours. And fuck, Kane, I’m really goddamn sorry about Shep. If I’da known…”

“You wouldn’t have hit me back?” Kane supplied.

He grinned. “Oh, I wouldn’t go that far. We both know that fight had been building a long time.

That’s what happens when we don’t beat the tar out of each other on a regular basis. And lifting weights and hitting a punching bag is a poor substitute, ain’t it?”

“Yep. Shocks people that we still like mixin’ it up, don’t it?”

“Which is why we’ve always done it in private,” Colt muttered.

“We’re supposed to be mature. Solve all our problems with words.”

“I’m a family man, for Christsake. I should know better. But there are times…”

Colt didn’t have to spell it out. Kane understood. There was no substitute for the real thing, nothing like bleeding and hurting that really made you feel alive. That’s where they were alike. The only other person in their family who had that same impulsive, primitive need was Brandt and he’d always refused to talk about it. Kane knew it’d come to a head for Brandt one of these days, probably sooner rather than later.

“You were right,” Colt offered. “I fucked up. I forgot to do a whole buncha shit that week, and it wasn’t your fault. I took it out on you because I could. So it ain’t an excuse, but I’ve been so goddamn distracted lately.”

“What’s up?”

Colt ran his hand over the top of his head. “Indy’s pregnant again, for one thing.”

“Congrats, man.”


“You don’t sound too happy about it.”

“I am. It’s just… There’s so much more to bein’ a husband and a father than I imagined. It’s like calving all the damn time.” Colt shot Kane a dark look. “And if you ever repeat that to Indy I will beat you bloody.”

Kane held up his hands in mock surrender.

“Just when I think I’ve got a handle on it all, the kid is sleeping through the night, the puppy is house trained, and I’ve got my sexy wife back…I find out I knocked her up again. And that day, when I looked at you, without all the damn worries about this family stuff, I was jealous of your freedom. It only lasted a minute or so, but it was there.”

He shook his head. “You’re a lucky man. Your life wasn’t such hot shit before Indy, remember? And I’d give my left nut to have those kind of family worries.”

“Speakin’ of…” Colt pinned him with a look. “What’s goin’ on with you and the fireball attorney?”

“Who the hell knows? One day it’s great. The next… I can’t get a bead on her.”

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